While there’s still a lot of jamming to finish for the season, this week at the market was pepper week.
I make a couple kinds of refrigerator pickles. One of my favorites is a spicy Italian Giardiniera, or ‘pretty pickle.’ Most recipes include a full day of brining the vegetables, and once jarred, they douse each jar in a healthy dose of olive oil. Because it’s almost impossible for the home cook to safely process recipes which contain a lot of oil and low acid vegetables, my refrigerator recipe for Giardiniera is for immediate eating. Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or to, if kept safely in the back away from temperature changes. I’ve got some vegetables brining for a Giardiniera to eat this week; I’ll get them into jars tomorrow. However, 24 hours of brining is a lot of time overhead for pickles that have to be eaten right away.
Kathy Moore’s NY State Fair-winning Red Pepper Relish inspired me to find a good way to can some of the pepper bounty at this week’s farmer’s market. I found a Giardiniera recipe online at a canning recipes site which boils the vegetables in a vinegar-salt-sugar brine and doesn’t add oil. The site suggests adding olive oil after opening a jar of brined and processed vegetables, and then refrigerating the jar. That could mean the best of both worlds — a shelf-stable home-canned pickle which can be enjoyed as it comes out of the jar, and tricked out in a second version with olive oil to taste for a traditional Giardiniera.
Since this is a first-time improv on this pickle recipe, I cut quantities in half to keep the batch small. It makes 6 pints or 3 quarts when doubled. Once the jars cool, I’ll let you know if there’s anything I’d do differently next time.
Once oil is added to a jar of these pickled vegetables, the jar should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a month. Once refrigerated, any giardiniera which contains oil should be kept tightly covered and stored in the back of the refrigerator where it will be less exposed to temperature variations.
Giardiniera (to be canned, water-bath processing)
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tablespoon pickling salt (1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup sliced baby carrots, cut 1/4-inch thick
3 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup red bell peppers, cut in 1-inch pieces
3-6 serrano peppers, diced into 1/2 inch pieces (number used depends on how hot you want the finished Giardiniera)
1 cup celery, rib-strings removed and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups onion slices (sliced about 1/2 inch thick & quartered – not in rounds)
In a 6 to 8 quart saucepot, combine vinegar, sugar, water, salt and turmeric. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 4 minutes. Add vegetables, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are hot, about 5 minutes. Immediately fill sterilized hot pint jars with mixture, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Carefully run a nonmetallic utensil down inside of jars to remove trapped air bubbles. Wipe jar tops and threads clean. Place hot lids on jar and screw bands on firmly but not to tight (about finger tip tight) Process pints in boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
Makes 3 pints.
Giardiniera (for refrigerator pickles)
My ‘refrigerator’ Giardiniera reads like a combination of these two recipes, but mine leans heavily leaning toward the one created by Nick Kindelsperger from the now-based-in-Chicago food blog, The Paupered Chef. Nick’s Giardiniera recipe is a clean-tasting, seriously spicy pickle. In his blog about Giardiniera, he linked to a recipe found in the online October, 2007 Chicago Tribune that is more or less the recipe I learned from the ladies in the Our Lady of Pompeii Church Auxilliary back when I was in college. Nick thought the Trib‘s recipe was too ‘fancy, ‘ and called the olive oil and cider vinegar combination too ‘distracting.’
I completely agree with Nick about using fewer carrots. I have always used white or red wine vinegar, although white distilled vinegar would work, too. But sorry, Nick — the olive oil stays. I’m an olive oil girl (don’t get me started on the nutritive issues with canola oil…!) Refrigerator Giardiniera also safely includes garlic — I often increase the garlic in mine to 4-6 cloves.
Be prepared — refrigerator Giardiniera is a two-day process. But its fresh taste just can’t be beat.
Which kind of Giardiniera do you prefer — one with a splash of olive oil, or one with lots of vinegar? Do you like the refrigerator version, something you’ve made at home or a commercially prepared Giardiniera from a jar? If you’ve got a recipe, please share!